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GEN News Highlights : Jun 15, 2010

£1.6 Marine Biodiscovery Centre Aims to Probe Ocean Depths for New Drugs

University of Aberdeen facility will offer library of marine compounds for licensing.

A new £1.6 million (about $2.37 million) marine biotechnology facility has officially been opened at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. The Marine Biodiscovery Centre will focus on the development of new drugs from unique marine organisms. It claims to be one of only three such facilities in Europe and one of a handful worldwide that brings chemists and biologists together to develop new marine-derived pharmaceuticals.

The center houses a library comprising hundreds of pure compounds and thousands of extracts from marine biota sourced worldwide, including the Mariana trench. The library is available for drug discovery use through licensing agreements. Complementary expertise offered includes biology, chemistry, chromatography, and spectroscopy.

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen have been investigating the potential utility of marine organisms for drug development over many years, remarks Marcel Jaspars, Ph.D., director of the Marine Biodiscovery Centre. “The creation of the new Marine Biodiscovery Centre is allowing us to advance our research using state-of-the-art technologies and work towards important new breakthroughs in this crucial area of medical discovery.”

Funding for the new center has been provided by the University’s College of Physical Sciences and Development Trust, with equipment partly funded by the U.K.’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.